|First of all, a thorough sweeping|
|Unhappy herb garden|
The climate of the City of Light is milder than it should be at this latitude (the same as Labrador). It’s semi-oceanic, the Atlantic being just 125 miles down the Seine River, so although Paris does have four seasons, plants can still over-winter outdoors. Occasionally I’ll fall in love with a climatically unsuitable plant, such as the luxuriant white Stephanotis floribunda that I planted in the ground, not knowing it was a semi-tropical jasmine from Madagascar. It froze to death in the harshest winter Paris had known in decades. But all in all, the survival rate among my perennials is good.
|Pierre de Ronsard|
All this needs tending when I arrive, but it’s there waiting faithfully in any season.
But for anything a bit more exotic, you need to cart yourself across town to Truffaut Nurseries. The trip entails two different Métro lines, but with a good book that goes by fast. The problem comes in bringing home the booty.
This time, I went there to buy some hostas for the Very Dark Place at the foot of the cherry laurel where a maidenhair fern seems to enjoy it, and also a blueberry bush to keep the blackberry company. Unfortunately for me, I’m rarely in Paris when the berries appear, but that may be one reason the merle chanteur has elected residence in our courtyard. One year he, or a relative, stole my cherry tomatoes just before they were ripe, leaving behind only the inedible green stem for me.
Juggling my purchases, I set off across the bridge toward the Métro station. Just then a free taxi pulled up and I flagged him down. It’s a fair distance to my house and the driver and I got to talking. Turns out he’s a gardener and was hoping, as I crossed in front of his cab, that I would motion to him. We traded gardening secrets, him telling me about stables near his house in the far suburbs where he goes for horse manure... and did I want any. (Strange things happen in Paris taxis!)
|Herb garden by the door|
|Thyme in flower|
And then there are the herbs that need to be replaced every year. Basil, of course - without which I wouldn’t know how to cook. And parsley, which is a bit of a finicky, whining plant, but again necessary for French cooking. Not to mention thyme, also a Mediterranean plant but less robust than its compatriot, rosemary. This year I’ve planted some chive in a bigger planter, hoping it’ll stay around or pop back up in the spring, like my chive does in Michigan. Same with the sage, but maybe I should have put it in a bigger pot if I want it to persevere.